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From Learning to Doing: Diffusion of Agricultural Innovations in Guinea-Bissau -- by Rute Martins Caeiro

This paper analyzes the role of social networks in the diffusion of knowledge and adoption of cultivation techniques, from trainees to the wider community, in the context of an extension project in Guinea-Bissau. In order to test for social learning, we exploit a detailed census of households and social connections across different dimensions. More precisely, we make use of a village photo directory in order to obtain a comprehensive and fully mapped social network dataset. We find evidence that agricultural information spreads across networks from project participants to non-participants, with different networks having different importance. The most relevant connection is found to be between the network of people from which individuals would ‘borrow money’. We are also able to disentangle the relative importance of weak and strong ties: in our context, weak ties are as important in the diffusion of agricultural knowledge as strong ties. Despite positive diffusion effects in knowledge, we found limited evidence of network effects in adoption behavior. Finally, using longitudinal network data, we document improvements in the network position of treated farmers over time.
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